Being part of your local community isn’t just a nice thing to do, in these times, it's a necessity if you want your facility to stand out from your competition. Communities are starting to understand self-storage as it evolves and becomes ever more visible on Main Street USA.
We're all more Internet-savvy, but sometimes your Web presence is all customers know about you. As paid advertising becomes more costly, it might be time to step back and focus on really connecting with your market. Instead of thinking about “driving customer traffic,” let’s try BIP (bringing in people). For starters, even the words have a more customer-friendly sound.
Everybody is trying to BIP. We need to work on BIP at all levels. Yellow Pages and drive-bys still reign as the king and queen of BIP, but their son, the Internet, is growing quickly. The one that we should be nursing now is our connection with the community.
Bringing in People
Good property managers know the value of a close relationship with their communities and are active in their local chamber of commerce, and post fliers and business cards around town. Then there are the great managers, those who leverage their marketing skills into community events that bring people to them.
Edie Nesbitt, property manager for Shepherd Self-Storage in Boardman, Ohio, understands this well. Nesbitt uses her contacts and background as an event planner to plan a health fair every spring.
The facility, a converted Sam’s Club, had some unused retail space that owner Joe Sylvester was able to turn into a nice room for the health fair. Nesbitt arranged to have about 30 vendors from the medical field display their wares. Some were in a retail space and some were set up in storage units. There were light refreshments, and the day brought new people that ordinarily wouldn’t think to visit a storage facility. Many toured the facility, heard about its many features and even got to know the staff.
Shepherd Self-Storage is also known for its expansive parking lot. During the summer, 300 to 400 hot rods of all ages and styles are on display for the Valley Cruzers weekly car cruise. This year, Nesbitt plans to host a home and garden show and a “RibFest,” complete with bands, games and concessions.